Stories in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED typically are more concerned with success than failure, but occasionally defeat can be fascinating, as in the account on page 57 of Prince Alfred, an Australian Six-meter yacht of radically new design, and its loss to a conventional U.S. Six. It is a story with special appeal for Boating Editor Ken Rudeen, who has encountered a frustration or two during his time afloat.
The troubles began shortly after Rudeen, then a landlubber, arrived in New York from the Midwest in 1954 to become one of SI's first staff members. He agreed to help a friend move a Star class boat from near Coney Island to a marina on Long Island Sound. "Just as we got going our outboard motor pulled its makeshift bracket off the transom," Rudeen says. "Then we hooked stays with an adjoining boat and snapped its mast. What with one thing and another, we missed the tide and crept up the East River, where we were stoned by urchins standing on the Manhattan shore. Then we went aground near the narrows called Hell Gate and had to be pulled free by a police launch. Paddling the last mile or so in no wind, we reached the marina in the wee hours of the morning."
Nonetheless, Rudeen was taken by sea and sail, and he bought a half interest in the Star. Soon thereafter a friend took it out in a bit of a wind and dismasted it.
Meanwhile, Rudeen was launching a considerably more auspicious career at SI. He has worked as a reporter and as a writer of hockey, motor sports, football and harness racing stories. For the past 12 years he has been a senior editor, and during that time a variety of subjects have come under his purview. He directed our baseball coverage for the last four seasons, is currently editing hockey and horse racing and late this summer will begin his second tour in charge of college football. But over the last half dozen years, one subject invariably has been his—boating, in all its forms.
February 9, 1976
Almost everybody has a tale like my boating story to tell about his introduction to some sport," says Rudeen. "They're commonplace. As boating editor, my aim is to find stories that are not commonplace and that are written by persons shrewd enough not to get stoned in the East River."
He maintains that his progress as a sailor has yet to put him in that category, but he claims kinship with one famous mariner. "Like Joshua Slocum, the first solo circumnavigator, I am a lousy swimmer," Rudeen says.
"All aspiring sailors dream of competing against—and defeating—the big racing names, and I had my chance last fall in an editors' and writers' regatta at the Naval Academy. After having had my doors blown off in the first race, by some miracle I led the second at the weather mark and might have won except that my mind went blank approaching the jibe mark. A boat coming up fast inside got an overlap on me, and my boat went dead in the water. I finished that race fifth among the nine boats. The guy who came up on me so fast had been over early at the start and had seemed to be in an impossible position, but he won the race. He was Bob Bavier, skipper of the 1964 America's Cup defender, Constellation. Well, at least he didn't stone me."